Breaking the Wall

August 07, 2020

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 16.00 Year: 2314.91
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1185.83
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

Ran 10 miles in the morning alone with a mile with ankle weights, and two mile marathon tempo pick-ups one in 5:46, and the other in 5:41 over by my house. In the afternoon ran with Benjamin and Jennifer, as well as my usual always on the run.

The recovery is going very well. Only the hamstrings are moderately sore. This is exactly where I want it to hurt. I've been trying to make them hurt after a marathon for a long time. The only other times when they have hurt recently has been after Top Of Utah 2003, and St. George 2003 - my two other best marathons. I believe this one was a better performance than those - my predictor says I ran an equivalent of 2:22:50 in St. George, and after going back and analyzing the data that made me set it this way, I still agree with the estimate. A number of elite runners that were in the same shape for both, and finished within the same or comparable distance from me in both marathons get correct predictions using the current formula.

Total of 13 miles for the day. Now it is the time to let the muscles rest a bit, and start developing the deadly 5 K fangs for the circuit. There are going to be plenty of college-speed venom-fanged predators hunting for circuit points, and I need to have a way to defend myself. Plus that speed will come handy in St. George - I'll be able to relax at 5:20 for at least some time.

Night Sleep Time: 0.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 0.00
From Steve Hooper on Tue, May 09, 2006 at 11:34:53

It's good to see your not too sore. Once again good job on Sat.

I think you're probably right on with your prediction of 2:22.50 for St. George. However, with all the races coming up and increasing your speed the rest of the summer months you probably will drop even more. Do you think you'll be able to drop below 2:20?

From steve ashbaker on Tue, May 09, 2006 at 16:23:58

Good job on Saturday... When and what do you mean by 5k flags? What kind workouts are you planning?

From Paul Petersen on Tue, May 09, 2006 at 17:14:13


In your pursuit of developing better 5k speed, have you considered dropping your mileage a little? Say, from 80-90 miles/week to 60-70 miles/week? One thought is to lower your total training volume and increase your intensity in order to bump up your speed while you focus on 5k's. Once you've achieved this, you could increase your volume during August and September for your peak marathons, and maintain your speed in the process.

The idea is that to run a fast 5k, you must train like a 5k runner. When I was running my fastest 5k's, my weekly mileage was generally around 60, with two quality track workouts and a weekend race. I am not sure what sort of volume elite 5k runners are doing, but I imagine it is lower than that of an elite marathoner.

Just a thought...

By the way, if you haven't tried decending/ascending ladder workouts already, I would highly recommend it. Go to a track and run 200 - 300 - 400 - 600 - 800- 1000 - 1000 - 800 - 600 - 400 - 300 - 200 at 3k pace. Great for speed.

From Sasha Pachev on Tue, May 09, 2006 at 21:38:56

Steve - that was a typo - it was supposed to say fangs.

Paul - I believe there are two types of a 5 K runner - those that can run it well off low-mileage, and those who do better with higher mileage. Think of Gerry Lingren for an extereme case for higher mileage. I talked to him last year - he said his 400 speed did not come until he started doing mega mileage. So I would say this is very individual. One thing I know for myself is that high mileage done right does not hurt my speed. Perhaps the reason I do not lose any is that there was none to begin with.

I have tried ladders before, although not extensively, and a long time ago. Have not found them to be much different from regular intervals. It might be worth another try - can you make a strong case for ladder training?

Here is the challenge I am dealing with when it comes to a 5 K. I can run a mile in 5:00 and feel like I am relaxing. But then a bear jumps on me on the next 400 and reduces me to a tempo pace for the rest of the way. This has happened time and again. I have been able to give this bear a punch in the belly in Draper Days in 2004 when I ran my PR of 15:37 (I've run faster 5 Ks, but do not consider the courses PR-eligible). That was about the only time in my life I've been able to punch that bear. That race hurt worse than any other race I've ever run. To anybody that says marathon is the greatest pain they've ever experienced I say wait until you do a 5 K right.

To have the strength to punch the bear I did the following: daily sprints 10 repeats of 10 seconds all out 50 seconds slow, 3x1 mile downhill in the Provo Canyon with 200 recovery each in 5:00 once a week, and 4.3 miles up a 5% grade (I believe, you can double check it - it is from the start of the Squaw Peak road to the parking lot at the top) flooring it, a couple of minutes to rest and admire the scenery (as if I would care at that point), and then the same stretch down also flooring it. My plan was to repeat the same routine since it worked last time, but feel free to share any insights on why it worked, and what you think would work better.

From Paul Petersen on Tue, May 09, 2006 at 22:21:22

Ladders came to my mind because we did a lot of them in college during the time my footspeed was developing. I like them because they mix speed and endurance in the same workout...just like a 5k race. They are also a good way to help with your kick, since you're doing the fastest intervals after you're completely gassed from the longer endurance intervals. I think that's why 5k's hurt so much, because they blend speed and endurance almost equally. There is really no time to relax. I agree that the 5k is the most painful race, by the way. In a strange way marathons are much easier.

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